Contributed by Jennifer Pierce
From June 19th to July 4th, over 120 American CARP students participated in the second annual International Exchange Trip to Korea and Japan.
The very first international exchange trip took place in the spring of 2016. This initiative was started by a CARP-affiliated women’s group called Kodan in the Los Angeles area who hoped this trip would be an opportunity for the local CARP chapter members to develop leadership skills, discover CARP’s roots in Japan and Korea, and build relationships with international CARP members.
This year’s trip was a success and opened up opportunities for the future. The big takeaways were experiencing Father and Mother Moon’s heart and vision for CARP, the young people, and the world and fostering unity between the three countries of Japan, Korea, and America.
For daily accounts of the trip, go to this blog.
This year, participants spent eight total days in Japan and roughly four days in Korea. The trip opened with a 2-day Divine Principle workshop with content focused on the essence of the Divine Principle and the meaning and value of the marriage Blessing.
Mr. Nakamura gave the lectures and clearly explained the principled lifestyle and true families. Through these lectures, the participants gained a deeper understanding of the heart of God and how to develop healthy and lasting relationships.
“I learned a lot about the main principles from the Divine Principle. I learned that relationships and love ensure a better life for a person, and that true love is sacrificing yourself to your significant other just as God did. I appreciate everything that God has done to ensure a better life for all of humanity and I feel the hardships that He goes through when something goes wrong in His plan.” – Daniel
“I never realized how much True Mother had to sacrifice in her life with True Father, and it made me feel so grateful that God, True Parents, and my own parents have paid so much indemnity for the life that I have now. I also learned that without actual effort, you will never attain true happiness.” – Leo
After the two-day workshop, the participants went on a pilgrimage to Waseda University, following in Father Moon’s footsteps – the place he lived, the path he traveled, the prison he was sent to, and finally the university he attended. This experience opened up a path to understand Father’s past.
“It was cool to see where [True Father] was coming from. It was inspiring to see how he had to go through so much and then shared how he overcame.” – Benjamin
Fifteen of the participants experienced witnessing on Waseda’s campus. They invited students of the university to the CARP event, International Borderless Conference, where four CARP members spoke – two from CARP Japan, or J-CARP, and two from CARP America.
A total of 15 new guests showed up at the event. They were inspired by the content and some even began studying the Divine Principle, which showcased to the participants how CARP can positively impact people. They could see the importance and necessity of CARP.
The next day, an exchange program was held between J-CARP and CARP America with presentations and testimonies, culminating in a homestay for the American students at the Japanese CARP houses to experience CARP Japan’s lifestyle.
Sharing experiences and a similar living space helped to bridge the cultural gap between the two CARP groups and foster new relationships.
The leaders of J-CARP and CARP America met on June 26, exchanging plans and insights to build better CARP programs on both fronts. This was an inspiring exchange.
“I feel like the one thing that we lack is ambition to [J-CARP’s] degree. The one thing I felt we could absolutely inherit from them is that conviction. That’s something that America can inherit. Moving forward [for CARP L.A.], the first step is working on a clear, logical direction and model for what that CARP chapter is going to look like.” – Joshua
Upon arrival to Korea, CARP America participated in a pilgrimage to Beomnetgol, Father Moon’s first church (also referred to as the” mud hut”), and Cheong Pa Dong, the first headquarters church. Witnessing Father and Mother Moon’s humble beginnings moved many participants to realize how much they sacrificed for the world.
“An amazing experience was being able to go to [Cheong Pa Dong] which was my first time…. I remember the pastor there telling us how True Father was praying floods of tears until the floors were wet and seeping through the other side. When I heard that, I was able to understand even a little how big Father’s heart was for this world. This pilgrimage helped me realize deeper God’s goal for the future.” – Ikusei
The participants then attended the 2017 International Collegiate Symposium for the Reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the Korean Congress building. Three representative students from CARP Japan, Korea, and America gave speeches on the importance of peaceful reunification. It was inspiring to see all three countries coming together to tackle this very crucial issue that was also dear to Father’s heart.
Afterwards, CARP America held an exchange program with CARP Korea to share, bond, and inspire each other to be their best self.
Finally, the culmination of the trip was meeting Mother Moon at the Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace. First, they were led to Father Moon’s resting place, Ponyangwon, for a prayer. From mud hut to palace in the presence of Father and Mother Moon, the participants were moved to tears and made determinations to work even harder from this point on.
“Visiting True Father’s grave allowed me to experience a deeply spiritual experience. I felt a tangible presence of the man who gave me everything; the man who instilled within me purpose and faith…. but then I realized that he was not at peace. Not until all of God’s children come home can Father be at peace. In this moment, I understood that fulfilling his mission is the only thing that will bring about joy to God, True Parents, and all of humankind.” – Ryusei
“I was holding in tears because of the emotional experience this trip has been. The love in the room was definitely there…. In that moment, I was filled with love that can last a lifetime.” – Darius
“Seeing True Mother in person allowed me to see the love that she has for humanity infinitely more clear than her portraits ever will. Today when visiting both Father and Mother, I felt a strong spiritual presence that I have only ever felt in my life when I was closest to God. I am looking for answers within my heart, and I won’t give up on the Divine Principle until I find what I’m looking for.” – David
Before the participants packed up to return home, they made determinations within their CARP chapters to create or expand their CARP chapters. Everyone was motivated to set goals and achieve them, even shouting them out loud for their fellow participants to hear.
All 120+ participants experienced one global family. With newfound determination and fond memories with CARP Japan and Korea, each participant is ready to go back to their communities and achieve more until the next year’s trip!
For more photos from this trip, go to our Facebook page.